NOTE: This review is spoiler free of plot details.
In the third episode of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Rocket makes a joke about the team finding themselves in another temple as up to that point, they’ve found themselves in at least one per episode. At the end of the fourth episode of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, “Who Needs You”, I would’ve given anything to be in a temple again as the entire episode takes place more or less within the confines of drab, uninteresting cave. The bland location is just one of the many problems with the penultimate episode of the first season of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy series, as it also does little to advance the plot, squanders emotional moments and has characters make questionable decisions based on thin motivations. There’s no question that this is easily the worst episode of Guardians of the Galaxy that Telltale has produced in an otherwise very enjoyable debut outing.
People have become frustrated with the Guardians property post the release of the first film as Marvel has morphed all the characters to match how they are in the films, nowhere being more apparent than the current ongoing comic book the group is in now. This is true of the Telltale series as well, but where it most lines up with Marvel’s slate of films is in its under developed villain, Hala. Episode three concluded with something major happening to them that escalated the conflict between her and her Kree army and the Guardians, but this is barely touched upon in “Who Needs You” at all. Instead you have the team wandering around a cave while Hala seemingly just sits around and does nothing. More so than building up the conflict between the Hala and the Guardians, what Telltale is trying to accomplish with this episode is to build to some powerful character moments, and there are indeed some, but none of them feel earned.
In particular there’s a flashback scene with Drax, which is hinted at in the trailer for “Who Needs You”, that should be heartbreaking, but considering that Drax has more or less been played for nothing but comedy throughout the entire series, the moments don’t hit like they should. How comedy is used in this episode is really what really diminishes what it’s trying to accomplish overall as there’s hardly a moment where someone isn’t “on”. Towards the episodes conclusion there’s a point where you have to make some decisions that you feel would be hard for the character that you use, but then they just shrug it off like it’s nothing. If they don’t care, why should anyone playing the episode care either? There’s also an abundance of juvenile humor, specifically one moment with Groot, that I feel that Telltale is above. What also doesn’t work in this second to last episode is how two characters, of course this is going by my own personal decisions up to this point, more or less change places on how they’re reacted to the events up to this point that I didn’t buy at all.
For things that worked in “Who Needs You”, the point where you get some control that’s normally reserved for your just wandering around talking to your other teammates is the closet that Telltale will get to implementing plat-forming in their style of games and it’s kinda cool. The way the opening action sequence works to the music during the credits was also pretty fun and the only one that really has any weight to it. Like a lot of the interactions and sequences in “Who Needs You”, the remaining action bits save the first feel like they’re played for laughs and it diminishes any sense of danger that or threat that they’re trying to evoke.
Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy has been a great way to develop the team’s profile in the video game space and “Who Needs You” is the only misfire of the series thus far as it fails to advance the plot of the series forward or make any of its character moments work. With one episode to go in the series, I hope that Telltale is able to turn around the series and give a meaningful conclusion to a series that has only stumbled until now.